From pv magazine France
France's National Commission for Public Debate (CNDP) validated on July 28 the project management report of the Horizeo mega-solar-plus-storage project in Saucats, in the Gironde department in Nouvelle-Aquitaine in southwestern France.
Under development by French energy giant Engie and Paris-based independent power producer Neoen, the €1 billion unsubsidized project comprises a green hydrogen production unit, an agrivoltaic plant, and a data center.
The CNDP said that the public debate on the project will be kicked off on September 9 and will be finalized on January 9. Within this time frame, six major public meetings will be held in Gironde. The commission will also set up around 20 “contact points” on an ad hoc basis in the public space such as markets, squares, shopping centers, sports and cultural facilities. In addition, several thematic workshops will take place to discuss the economic and social impacts of the project or even allow “skeptical and critical citizens” to make alternative proposals.
According to information provided by the CNDP, the 1 GW PV plant will represent the largest part of the investment — €650 million — and could be the largest in Europe in terms of installed capacity and surface area, covering more than 900 hectares. It is planned to be located a few kilometers from the current largest photovoltaic park in France, the 300 MW Cestas project.
The electricity produced by the huge complex would be sold to final industrial clients through power purchase agreements. According to the French authorities, its sizing “would make it possible to produce abundant and competitive electricity and also constitute a lever for the development of other future technologies.”
The data center, which represents 20% of the investment, will be managed by Engie and provide digital services to businesses. Located near the photovoltaic park on an area of 2.5 hectares, it could be supplied 100% with renewable energies, of which at least 20% could be supplied directly by the PV plant.
The project will also rely on a 40 MW Li-ion battery storage unit managed by Neoen, which, according to the owner, would contribute to the stability and regulation of the electricity network. The investment is estimated at €20 million.
The project also comprises a green hydrogen production unit with a capacity of around 10 MW, managed by Engie. The marketing model for the hydrogen produced is not defined at this stage; contacts with communities likely to be interested have not yet been made. The investment is estimated at €40 million.
Finally, an area of 10 to 25 hectares would be dedicated to agricultural production under photovoltaic panels. This production would aim to supply school restaurants in the town of Saucats (or even beyond) with fruit and vegetables in short circuits.The investment is estimated at €10 million.
Environmental associations claim that the Horizeo project will require authorization to clear a 1,000-hectare wooded plot reserved for forestry. The project leaders have justified the location because of its proximity to a nearby substation in Saucats that has a higher availability of electricity injection at 1 GW, “which is exceptional on a national scale.”
No doubt this controversial point will be one of the most discussed during the debates.
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